After Wednesday night, the feeling was not so much deflation as a wish that the match (or at least the last five minutes) could be played again. You could see the anger in the players’ eyes, and in those of Arsene Wenger himself, and they no doubt felt the same – if only they could’ve had even ten more minutes to sort it out.
For that reason, if I were Wenger, I’d tell the same eleven players, in no uncertain terms, to get out there this afternoon and put things right. If they have the mental fortitude so often spoken about, Stoke would be in for a fearful hammering.
Gallas, however, has been ruled out with a hamstring strain that, as others have pointed out, didn’t seem to hamper him on Wednesday and may very well be an injury along the same lines of Jens Lehmann last season, in other words, the ‘you’re dropped’ kind of strain. Not before time, to be honest, even though the centre back position is not exactly one we have a lot of depth in. No-one should be immune to being left out, and Gallas performances have not been good enough.
But putting that ‘injury’ aside, I don’t want to see too many changes this afternoon. Give them the chance to bounce back and put the Spurs debacle behind them, allow them to show their strength of character.
It is time to stand up and be counted, and with United next up, a sneaked win this afternoon will not do. The players need to send a message, to the fans, to Wenger, to the league, and most importantly, to themselves.